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PR- 263-09
June 11, 2009


City, State and Federal Agencies Form New York City Wildlife Hazard Management Steering Committee to Promote Aviation Safety within the Metropolitan Area

City and USDA Will Remove Up to 2,000 Geese from City-owned Property within 5 Miles of JFK and LaGuardia Airports

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services State Director Martin Lowney today announced a comprehensive set of safety measures to reduce the population of Canada geese near City airports and on properties owned by the City. The safety measures include removal of Canada geese from select City-owned properties, new efforts to discourage Canada geese from landing on Rikers Island - which is less than one mile from LaGuardia Airport's runways - and new signage in City parks. These safety measures are the first set of actions taken by the New York City Wildlife Hazard Management Steering Committee, formed earlier this year to coordinate Canada geese and other wildlife mitigation efforts in the New York Metropolitan area. The Steering Committee consists of representatives from the City, USDA, Port Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the National Parks Service.

"The serious dangers that Canada geese pose to aviation became all to clear when geese struck US Airways Flight 1549," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Thanks to the heroic efforts of Captain Sullenberger, the Flight 1549 crew, local ferry boat operators and the City's emergency response agencies, no lives were lost. But the incident served as a catalyst to strengthen our efforts in removing geese from, and discouraging them from nesting on, City property near our runways."

"Our partnership with the City should provide comfort to the tens of millions of aviation customers and show that we're serious about ensuring their safety," said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward. "This new initiative will build on measures the Port Authority is already taking to eliminate wildlife hazards at the airports, including the installation of a state-of-the-art bird radar trial program at JFK airport, hiring a second wildlife biologist - two of only seven airport biologists in the nation, expanding shotgun training for field supervisors, and returning to Rikers Island for the sixth straight year of roundups."

"Research has shown that resident Canada geese in several New York studies stay within five miles of a particular location and that 74 percent of wildlife strikes occur at or near the airport," said Martin Lowney, Director of the USDA Wildlife Services program in New York. "In taking this first step in urban wildlife management, air travel safety should be improved without harm to the species as a whole."

In addition to the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549, there have been 77 goose strikes with aircraft in New York over the past 10 years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The State Department of Environmental Conservation states that the Metropolitan region, encompassing New York City; Nassau; Suffolk; Rockland; and Westchester counties, has an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 resident Canada geese.

The City of New York is contracting with the USDA to remove Canada geese from approximately 40 parks, wastewater treatment plants, and various City-owned properties within five miles of JFK and LaGuardia Airports.  USDA and City personnel will remove and dispose of Canada geese from targeted areas, including Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Fort Totten Park, during the molting season from the middle of June through the end of July. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, has issued a permit to the USDA to capture and remove Canada geese, which in this instance pose a public safety hazard. In addition, the City and the Port Authority will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which the Port Authority will pay half the cost of the USDA culling program. The City and the Port Authority will continue to work with the Wildlife Hazard Management Steering Committee to implement additional mitigation strategies for Canada geese and other potential threats to aircraft at LaGuardia and JFK airports.  The City and USDA will work with the Port Authority to measure the impact and effectiveness of the culling throughout the year. It is estimated that up to 2,000 Canada geese will be removed through these efforts.

Following guidance from the USDA, the City will also fill in a large depression on Rikers Island that attracts Canada geese and other water fowl.  To discourage Canada geese in City parks, the Department of Parks and Recreation will install and enforce new signage designating certain areas where all feeding of animals is prohibited in approximately 40 parks that are within a five mile radius of LaGuardia and JFK airports.

New York City is already engaged in non-lethal wildlife mitigation efforts on its reservoirs and watershed lands, wastewater treatment plants, re-vegetated landfills, and parks, including public education to discourage feeding; visual deterrents and use of border collies for herding; pyrotechnics; bird deterrent wires and netting; and egg addling - all approved by the USDA Office of Wildlife Services. The City, Port Authority and USDA already conduct egg addling and an annual culling of Canada geese on Rikers Island.

DSNY Plans to Construct Critically-Important Marine Transfer Station in College Point

Canada geese, which are herbivores, are not known to gather at waste transfer stations. The FAA has confirmed that the proposed Department of Sanitation North Shore Marine Transfer Station is outside of the Runway Protection Zone for LaGuardia Airport and compatible with safe aircraft operations, which is why the FAA issued a "No Hazard Determination" for the facility. The proposed transfer station also conforms to FAA advisory circular 150/5200-33B, which provides guidance on wildlife attractants near airports.

With guidance from USDA and FAA-qualified airport biologists, once the facility is in operation, the City will implement measures including cleaning the access roadway and parking facility daily, ensuring the exterior of containers/vehicles are free of debris when entering and exiting, and conducting extensive monitoring of the interior and exterior of the Marine Transfer Station on an ongoing basis.

The new Marine Transfer Station will be a fully-enclosed three-level, over-water facility. It is explicitly designed for the indoor transfer of solid waste from collection vehicles into sealed leak-proof containers that will be placed on barges for transport directly to an inter-modal facility for export by barge or rail.  Waste will be delivered to the MTS inside closed collection vehicles that will enter at the top level through rapid roll-up doors and tip waste onto the second level of the facility, away from the entrance door.  On the second level, the waste will be pushed through openings in the floor into leak-proof containers situated on the pier level.  Once containers are filled, lids will be placed on top of the containers, and each container will be cleaned, sealed, and then exit through rapid roll-up doors.  In addition, the containers will remain completely sealed while traveling on the barges after exiting the facility.  At no time in the entire process will waste be exposed to the outside environment.

This enclosed waste transfer operation incorporates significant technological and operational improvements that are already in place at the Sanitation Department's Staten Island Rail Transfer Station, which has a similar design and layout to the North Shore MTS.  Since opening in 2006, the Staten Island facility has operated exceptionally well, and has not attracted birds.


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

Candace McAdams (Port Authority)   (212) 435-7777

Carol Bannerman (USDA)   (301) 734-6464

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